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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows”

Pinkie Pie had the tables turned on her in this episode. Way back in “Green Isn’t Your Color”, she constantly gave Twilight Sparkle the stink eye any moment that it looked as if she would have exposed the secrets that Rarity and Fluttershy were keeping from each other (even if it would have been beneficial for both of them to know the truth in that particular case). Yet in this episode, the naturally talkative pony finds herself needing to keep a genuine secret and struggles continuously to avoid telling anyone the news to not spoil a surprise; namely that Twilight herself is going to be an aunt. As Pinkie would love telling anyone exciting news like that or doing anything to “spread the fun around”, she finds herself rather taxed to try and keep her snout shut.

This episode made me think about something I once heard. I think it was the comedian Lewis Black who pointed out that modern US society doesn’t have a privacy problem but rather a “secrecy” one. To a large extent I think he was right. True, a lot of people talk about the need for privacy and the threat to personal security due to the dawn of the information age, and it’s never been easier to steal someone’s identity and do tremendous damage. And yet, on the flip side, everyone posts all of their thoughts, actions, achievements, and even embarrassment online for all the world to see so often that it’s almost astonishing.

We hear stories of criminals being arrested because they bragged of their crimes online, employees being fired because they posted pictures of themselves doing lewd acts on the job, cyberbullying that drives students to change schools or commit suicide, and all getting thrown around the world so fast that strangers could know about it before close friends or family, or even those involved, do. It seems everyone is eager for everyone to know everything interesting about them and everyone else they know. Getting a large number of hits or likes for things we post is a mark of distinction and personal pride, driving many of us to try and post more information and search for anything we can dig up that’s clever or exciting. And all of this has pretty much led to the opposite of a crisis of privacy. The real epidemic is a desire to not have any privacy or, at minimum, to desire no privacy for anyone else but ourselves. Small wonder that many people in different occupations either avoid social media like the plague or create a pseudonym to avoid it getting “tainted”.

In this environment, secret-keeping is harder than ever. Everyone posts everything online. Not just secrets but everything. And this, in turn, is endemic of a more serious problem. Part of the reason we’re so eager to spill secrets and anything else we come across now is since everyone has access to everyone else via the Internet, what we now define as our society of peers has broadened. As a result, what seems to be the norm has also expanded; and, to anyone who has been around the Internet long enough, not necessarily to a very courteous or “real-world acceptable” degree. For wherever there is society, there’s always one side effect of the social climate: behavior is acceptable or “ok” so long as everyone does it, and therefore the more one sees it the more they are encouraged to do it.

To hint at a mild and innocuous example, any fellow fan of “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” knows that the season finale for Season Six was leaked almost a month in advance. Such things had happened before and many of us, I assume, would want to wait to be surprised or, if not, would recognize that others might want it to be kept a secret until the episode actually debuted. And yet, thanks to the Internet, clips from the episode were showing up all over online, turning up on search results even if people didn’t want to look for them, and spoiling crucial and plot items details before they were revealed. Once it was spoiled, many no doubt decided to watch it anyway since “they already knew”, while others perhaps promulgated it because “everyone else was doing it”. Then came reviews and commentaries and fanart and the like based around that episode; all of which normally comes out when the episode debuts but, as someone or multiple “someones” wanted to get the “scoop” on it, put content out early, and then everyone else didn’t want to be left behind. Soon it was everywhere so that you had to take steps to avoid it rather than find it. And all before the actual episode finally debuted.

That illustrates the basic principle: it’s always easier to be the one to spill the beans when you think something is already spilled. And, in a more general sense, it’s always easier to do negative behavior, whether it was something like leaking a pirated episode or something more severe like joining in on shaming a classmate, being occupationally dishonest, or simply leaking a secret, when you see other people doing it. After all, it’s already taking place anyway…what harm is it to join in?

At times like this, it’s important for the Christian to remember that they are the “light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). It’s also important to remember that the Christian lifestyle often encourages us to separate from other parts of society in terms of behavior (and not just in things like condemning homosexual marriage). “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

I think a great time to do that is when we see widespread behavior going on that’s wrong, and we feel ourselves pressured to adopt it due to society yet we know what the Bible says about it. Then seems to be the best point to take a stand against it. That includes not stirring the pot of hateful speech or comments, not using social media as a way to get even or feel justified over others, and, in the case of secret keeping, to realize that being entrusted with a secret is someone willing to make an investment in your personally-most-valuable commodity: your word.

At all times, one of the most important things that a Christian, or anyone, can do is be a person of their word. “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore fear God.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-7) “Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” (Numbers 30:1-2) “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a thing covered.” (Proverbs 11:13) 

There’s nothing more valuable when it is intact, and nothing that loses its value more quickly when taken for granted. To have everyone trust you implicitly when you say you will or won’t do something is a mark of value that is greater than anything you possess, and something Christians should safeguard as carefully as possible to live up to the commission of Lord Jesus. Especially today when everywhere in society from top to bottom, whether it be politics, media, our place of business, or online, encourages us to expect a certain degree of dishonesty and un-trustworthiness from everyone.

May we all as Christians always balk that trend, and always prove ourselves as trustworthy and faithful as our God is.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that you are always true and faithful in every word you have spoken, and that you are trustworthy in all you promise and faithful in all your works. Please help me to be found as trustworthy and dependable in all that I say and do, so that I might better demonstrate the faithfulness of God in my own life and example. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”